Cat and Mouse – the play

maude-edwards

Maude Edwards (marked by cross) photographed
by a police agent.
SCOTLANDSIMAGES.COM / Crown Copyright 2010
The National Archives of Scotland HH16/47

Meanwhile the prison is under siege. Thousands of women picket the gates, singing hymns late into the night.

Three other suffragettes pass through the doctor’s hands: the anti-prostitution campaigner Fanny Gordon (whom his cure comes close to killing); Maude Edwards, jailed for sticking an axe in the king’s portrait; and Fan Parker, would-be bomber of Burns’ cottage in Alloway.

Each of these women increases the pressure on the doctor and the hysterical atmosphere inside the jail. His use of rectal feeding as a last resort is reported in the newspapers, causing public outrage. Fan Parker is sexually assaulted by a female warder. The doctor’s judgement is questioned in parliament.

arabella-scott
Arabella Scott (marked by cross) protesting in London 1913.
SCOTLANDSIMAGES.COM / Crown Copyright 2010
The National Archives of Scotland HH16/44

Claiming a scientist’s curiosity, he asks Arabella to describe her experience of being force-fed. What she tells him devastates him. He offers her a deal: if she gives up her hunger strike, the government will send her to Canada – so long as he escorts her there. She refuses, but registers the implications of the offer, and their volatile relationship acquires a new, explicitly personal dimension. They quarrel, more like lovers than political opponents. Unforgiveable words are exchanged.

Photograph of the suffragette Fanny Parker, alias Janet Arthur, being escorted from Ayr Sheriff Court by a police officer. Miss Parker, a niece of Lord Kitchener, faced trial for attempting to burn Robert Burn's cottage in Alloway

Photograph of the suffragette Fanny Parker, alias Janet Arthur, being escorted from Ayr Sheriff Court by a police officer. Miss Parker, a niece of Lord Kitchener, faced trial for attempting to burn Robert Burn’s cottage in Alloway

Fanny Parker escorted from Ayr Sheriff Court after
attempting to blow up Burns’ cottage 1914.
SCOTLANDSIMAGES.COM / Crown Copyright 2010
The National Archives of Scotland HH16/43

Arabella hears her sister Muriel, outside the prison walls, encouraging her to “fight on” for the cause. But is Arabella still fighting for women’s votes – or has her struggle with the doctor become an end in itself? The next day, he asks for her help. The police have wind of a plan to blow up his house. She agrees to dictate a letter dissuading the plotters. He takes down her words, not realising that they are a coded incitement to violence. Too late, she regrets what she has done.